John Sterling, Radio Voice of the Yankees for 36 Years, Retires at 85

Bryan Hoch,

The Yankees announced on Monday that Sterling has retired, effective immediately. The 85-year-old Sterling will be recognized in a pregame ceremony on Saturday at Yankee Stadium. He will visit the WFAN radio booth during that afternoon’s game against the Rays.

“I am a very blessed human being,” Sterling said in a statement. “I have been able to do what I wanted, broadcasting for 64 years. As a little boy growing up in New York as a Yankees fan, I was able to broadcast the Yankees for 36 years. It’s all to my benefit, and I leave very, very happy. I look forward to seeing everyone again on Saturday.” [...]

Known for his gyrating “Sterling Shake” victory call (“Yankees win … theeeeee Yankees win!”), humorous phrases tacked onto play-by-play action (“Back to back, and a belly to belly!”) and personalized home run calls (“Bern Baby Bern!”), Sterling called 5,060 consecutive games from September 1989 to July 2019 — every at-bat of Derek Jeter’s career, every inning of Mariano Rivera’s and more.

The story includes a slew of his all-time great calls; more here on Twitter/X. There’s something different about radio announcing from TV announcing. Some guys can do both. But there was something ineffably radio about Sterling. I will always think of stadium announcer Bob Shephard as “the voice of the Yankees”, but John Sterling was the voice of Yankee fans. He just unabashedly loved the team, and was ecstatic for every win, and crushed with every loss.

And think about this: He called over 5,400 Yankee games over 36 years. He’s legitimately considered a living legend for it. But he didn’t get the job until he was 49 years old.

Monday, 15 April 2024